As scuba divers, we have come to enjoy the idea of dive resorts; basically hotels that cater to divers by having a local dive operator, offer special rates that include diving, and are of course located at interesting dive destinations. To date we’ve tried three of these: Compass Point, Anthony’s Key and now True Blue Bay in Grenada.
What tempted us about Grenada was the promise of warmer waters around January and February due to its proximity to the equator. What also helped were the reviews we had seen about the local wrecks. We found True Blue Bay thanks to an article listing the top Caribbean dive destinations and chose it primarily because of the good dive-inclusive rates and good reviews about the Aquanauts Dive Center on site.
As we wind down from our week of diving and reflect back, we must concede that this was our least favorite dive resort to date. We would not really recommend it to our diving friends, except perhaps for the most budget conscious willing to make sacrifices to save a little extra. Things can of course change over time, and what was clear to us was that with just a little more oversight, some needed maintenance and perhaps more staff training, our experience could have been a lot better. Sometimes the little things can make all the difference leading to a pleasant and memorable stay.
All around the resort, there seemed to always be some kind of repair or construction going on. This is not necessarily bad, but there were always messy signs of the work such as carts full of debris, a broken fence leaned up on the wall for days, exposed wires and pipes and the like. Just a little more effort at cleaning up and finishing off these areas would make a walk around the grounds much more pleasant. Even the finished areas were often littered with unused construction materials, and pipes or wiring were left exposed and awkwardly showing instead of being nicely finished and covered with landscaping.
Many of the quirky statues and artwork, which would otherwise be admired, were in disrepair and either rusted or missing parts. In many cases we saw presumably broken parts simply removed with likely no intention to repair or replace them. The balcony railings were also rusted and needed paint or repair and even the walkways, once nicely inlaid with ceramics and stones in their heyday were now patched with uneven and unmatched colors of concrete with just a few decorative tiles remaining where repairs had not been done, giving the place a shabby appearance.
Unfortunately there is no beach on site at the hotel despite it being waterfront. The small area of what could be beach was narrow and we have to say the water looked polluted and uninviting. Perhaps the hotel is aware of health hazards but for whatever reason there was certainly no promoting the use of the waterfront at the resort. We did see a few kayaks by the marina, but rarely saw them used.
The two pools were quite nice but again the lounge chairs were dirty, many torn and in disrepair. We also noticed sand fleas early morning and early evening—so do bring bug spray if you decide to visit. Also, there was a lack of chairs, even for the small amount of guests we saw..
The resort has different room types. The True Blue Bay rooms are located by the pool and the Tower suites offer a tower area that you can climb up to get a good view. There are Bayview rooms and Waterfront suites with two floors overlooking the bay. We requested the Indigo room, which had a partial view of the bay and a view from a private balcony.
The room itself was nicely finished with interesting art, a decent sized bathroom and a comfortable bed with what seemed a fairly new Simmons mattress. A good-sized mini fridge and set of stovetop burners with cookware and dishes allowed us to make a few meals in the room ourselves. While the windows and doors were well sealed off to keep the bugs out, we couldn’t help but notice some of the once-nice amenities were neglected.
The balcony had a frame for what must have been at one time a nice sunshade that had likely torn and was now removed and never replaced. We saw the same empty frame on all the Indigo room balconies. Too bad because with the few days of rain we had, the canopy would have enabled us to at least sit on the balcony and enjoy some of the outside while it rained. As it was, the balcony was unusable in the rain.
The wooden chairs had markings suggesting they once had cushions but these were missing. On one, a decorative armrest on one side was missing. It was as if the maintenance policy was to simply remove or ignore rather than replace and repair. A shame, as in our opinion a few dollars wisely spent on upkeep would warrant a slightly higher room charge and may result in more return visits.
An on- premise restaurant called the Dodgy Dock offered some reasonable dining options but portions were small and food was just ok. Unfortunately there are not many restaurants or grocery stores around and one must take the shuttle or a taxi to Grand Anse Beach to get supplies to cook in one’s own room.
We would have enjoyed walking to other venues occasionally but there weren’t really many around and the one time we did wander out we saw a lot of stray or free- running dogs in the area, making encountering them on the street a possible challenge. We thought about taking the $15 taxi in each direction for dinner but most of the time ended up dining at the restaurant giving it another chance.
After spending most of our nights there we were tired of it by the end of our stay. Seeing a couple of large rodents running around the back and under the dock also made us nervous. Likely difficult to eradicate in an outdoor setting but nevertheless a health concern when in close proximity to the restaurant!
The hotel shop has a good collection of souvenirs, drinks and of course local chocolate ranging from 60% to 100%. We couldn’t help but to sample all of the various kinds—nutmeg, ginger and nibs.
While friendly enough, there were many ‘little things’ to make us think that perhaps more training or more oversight would be helpful. It started with there being no one to pick us up at the airport despite the included transfer and the assurances of the manager that someone would be there with a sign.
There was also lots of confusion about the rates and the hotel and it was often difficult to get a straight answer; in fact, as we were making the reservations we exchanged multiple emails and even ended up having to call at ($3/minute!) to ensure we were getting the dive package rate. Then a month before arrival we got an email saying the place was full and they would try to accommodate us (what?) more email exchanges and all seemed ok but we were nervous right up to check-in and still confused about the rates at check-out.
Other little things like not having creamer for coffee and when we asked the maid, she said yes sorry but they were ‘out’ (later she brought us a container of milk which was nice). There was also supposed to be a turndown service but when we hadn’t seen it for 3 days and asked they said they’d tell the lady. She showed up the next night at 9:30 pm when we were getting ready for bed and after two nights we didn’t see her again.
Location for diving
We didn’t realize it at the time but most of the dive sites are actually closer to Grand Anse so the dive boat had longer trips to make than the other operators would have to do when leaving from Grande Anse itself. While we contemplated the Sandals when shopping around, there are other cheaper alternatives like the Radisson Blue and the Rex (and many others) right on Grand Anse beach. Some of the divers came over from the other resorts to dive with us at Aquanauts; they seemed happy with the resorts they had chosen in Grand Anse.
While True Blue Bay offered a shuttle to Grand Anse Beach it was only going twice a day with the last one leaving at 1pm. This was rarely practical for us with the dive boat returning at 1pm most days. Having a room on the beach (and having more shopping in close proximity) would make the post-dive afternoons more enjoyable; getting to dive sites would also be faster.
Overall we settled into a relaxed routine of diving in the mornings, taking a nap or looking at our dive pictures and filling in our dive logs in the afternoon. We got used to simply chilling out and reading a book on the balcony or just taking it easy. Perhaps that is what people staying here are after. In the end we were looking forward to get back home and didn’t see ourselves returning to Grenada as a dive destination. If we did we would look for a different place to stay unless we’d heard or seen True Blue Bay make major renovations and enhancements.
In truth, despite what we had read online (you can’t believe everything you read on the internet can you!) the water temperature was the same 79-81°F we had heard it was in the Caymans and the closer islands and not the 82ºF we had expected. Further, we were just fine with our shorties anyway, and we would have been fine in any of the other locations too. More disappointing was the visibility of 40-50 feet which is comparable to what we have here in Miami most dives and much less than the 100+ feet we had in Cozumel or Grand Cayman.
We’re glad we came and got to experience it, but we will look to something different in the future. In fact, we’re already planning a Cozumel dive trip in November, this time at the Iberostar with a dive operator right on site (20 ft from our room). More to come on that soon but if you’ve been there please do let us know your thoughts.